OXFORD (Mich.) — On Thursday morning, a special delivery arrived at Oxford High School. It was a former longtime student. Detroit LionsBill Keenist, vice president of communications, met Tony DeMare in his office to present a brown container as a gift for the team.
Inside was the official gameball from the Lions' 2021 emotional first win, which Dan Campbell, Detroit coach of Detroit, promised would “go to the whole Oxford community.”
“Authenticity is when people stick to their word. DeMare stated after receiving the ball. It just increases your respect for them.”
The Lions celebrated their 2021 season's first win over the Minnesota VikingsOn Dec. 5, four teens were killed and many others injured in a shooting at Oxford High School. The Lions paid for the painting of the game ball in a memorial fashion, with the final score, date, and location, before shipping it to Keenist who is a longtime Oxford resident.
Oxford has given “11/30” a new meaning. It's too late to go to sleep or get ready to eat lunch. Keenist stated that those numbers will not be forgotten in the interest of everyone involved. “The football will be forever a symbol of this.”
The game ball will be displayed at the high school where students can first celebrate it. The ball will be then shared with many community organizations, including first responders, police stations and fire stations, as well as banks, restaurants, sheriffs and other officers.
DeMare plans on displaying the ball in an exhibit case, before giving it to someone else who can keep with it for up to one week.
DeMare explained, “Just thinking about, it's just a football inside a case but it symbolizes Oxford's unity.”
Lions have many receivers Amon-Ra St. BrownThe game-winning touchdown was scored by the quarterback in a walk-off style Jared GoffDuring that win over the Vikings. The win was not only his first career touchdown but also because of the way the team rallied after the high school shooting. The Lions paid tribute to the victims by giving them T-shirts, helmet decals, and hats. Before kickoff, they observed a moment silence.
St. Brown shared his hope that the game will encourage students to not give up, and to fight hard. He said that with the shooting that took place, a lot could feel hopeless and lose motivation. “That game would literally represent what they're going though for us. We were [0-10-1]And we found a way for us to win. Many thought that we would go winless throughout the season. So we found a way. It was a message to everyone to not quit.
He said, “It's always possible to have hope, even in the worst times.” There is always something to look forward too. It's important to push yourself and keep working. Coach Campbell gave them the ball. It will hopefully give them the motivation to move forward.”